Sanderling

photo by Phil Swanson (winter)

Calidris alba
L 8″ (20 cm).

Song or calls:
Sharp high-pitched “twick,” sometimes given in a series.

Description: Sexes similar. Breeding adults show mottled rusty head, mantle, and breast; feathers on the back are black with rusty edges; white belly. Winter plumage is the palest of all sandpipers: pale gray above and white below with black legs and bill. A bold white wing stripe shows in flight.

Bird Map
Habitat: Migrants found on sandy shorelines, sand flats, and salt-encrusted flats. Usually not associated with muddy shorelines.

Where in Nebraska: Rare to occasional spring and fall migrant in eastern and central parts of the state. Rarer in the west.

Field Notes: Sanderlings can be quite tame, as incubating birds can be observed from as close as two to three feet.

Fun Facts: Sanderlings are often seen running the shoreline chasing receding waves and running from water when it returns. Males and females often incubate separate clutches and care for young separately.

juvenile Sanderling - photo by Phil Swanson Sanderling - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)